Alistair Carmichael is the Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland, and Ian Murray is the Labour MP for Edinburgh South. They represent different parties and very different types of constituency. Yet the issue of how plastic pollution is impacting the ocean is one that transcends such differences. We only have one ocean and it is up to all of us to protect it for future generations.
These MPs partnered with More United to find out what we think of this issue and what our priorities are in addressing it.
They have analysed all the responses and, on the 9th of August, submitted them as evidence to Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into creating sustainable seas.
Thank you so much to all of you for working with me and Ian on this campaign. It's only by working together that we can make real, lasting change on this issue so your voices and experiences are crucial to building solutions. We'll let you know if the Inquiry has any feedback on our submission.
In the meantime, here are some of the key findings from the consultation:
98% of us feel that taking action to address the amount of plastic pollution reaching beaches and seas is both necessary and urgent.
86% of us are willing to pay a little more for measures that would lead to a reduction in marine litter.
- We're most concerned about the harm to animal welfare and the potential human health risks caused by plastic pollution.
Many of us feel that the UK is lagging behind other European countries in tackling this issue.
- We’re frustrated by how difficult it is to avoid single-use plastics when we do our shopping and angry about the inadequacy of the UK’s recycling infrastructure.
We all want to see bold and urgent action on this issue and want to do our part to reduce the problem. But we feel powerless to make that change happen on our own, without structural change led by the government.
- 76% of us say we've changed our attitude towards single-use plastics since the 5p bag charge was introduced. For many of us it didn't just make us reconsider our use of plastic bags, but of plastics in general and consequently led to a change in our wider behaviour.
Some of the most important changes that we'd like to see to tackle the issue include:
Greater responsibility on manufacturers and supermarkets to reduce waste. There is a strong sense that supermarkets and other retailers do not currently have to deal with the burden of plastic waste that they produce.
One person said: "I’m happy to change my behaviour around plastics, but I want to see that supermarkets and other companies are changing theirs too!”
- Improving the UK’s recycling capabilities. There is a lot of frustration with the inadequacy of the UK's recycling facilities. Many of us are trying our hardest to be sustainable but it feels like our actions are pointless in the face of such a gaping hole in infrastructure.
"I’m astonished and ashamed to know that since China stopped accepting our plastic waste we as a country are recycling less than 50% of what we all have sorted into plastic recycling at home."
Cutting down on non-recyclable packaging. Supermarkets make it difficult to avoid non-recyclable packaging and this makes many of us feel angry and powerless to change things. We want to see greater choices in supermarkets with readily available alternatives to plastic.
"I use plastics mostly because they’re convenient. Alternatives to plastic need to be offered in order to allow the majority of people to make better choices."